Madera Unified welcomes back TK-1st grade students to campus

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Madera Unified teachers welcomed back their littlest learners today after a year of distance learning.

At Pershing Elementary, staff says they've been counting down to today.

"I believe we were closed 378 days," said Principal Lisa DelaPena.

After over a year of closed campuses, Madera Unified welcomed back transitional kindergarten through first-grade students today.

"The parents were as excited as the children and the children were very eager to get out of the car and just step out on campus," said DelaPena.

About 140 students are back for in-person learning, including Mrs. Garcia's TK class.

"We've been waiting on this for over a year now and they're finally back in our classroom," said Fanielia Garcia. "Just to see them walk on campus, their excitement in their voices, coming in, lining up, greeting us - some of them for the first time."

Students will notice some changes in the classroom though, including plexiglass in between each of their desks and arrows pointing them to their seats.

"They have their on plexiglass up, they have their own cubby, and everything's individualized," added Garcia. "We have the 6 ft. seating."

"They have familiarity with their teachers and they know the students in their class what is different will be the distancing," added DelaPena.

Parents must also fill out an online health questionnaire for their students before they get to campus. So far, the students are taking the changes in stride.

"I'm beyond impressed, my students are 5-year-olds so they're the youngest of the youngest," said Garcia. "I'm beyond impressed with how well they are doing. I didn't expect such a smooth transition. It's a lot better than I expected."

The district will welcome back 2nd-3rd graders this Thursday. 4th-6th will return April 6th.
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